Feeding seniors in need: Second Harvest food delivery program helping the low-income, homebound

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TRI-CITIES (WJHL) — As September marks Hunger Action Month, a program started in the spring at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee is looking to target a group of people they say are often forgotten.

“When we think about hunger, we think more of children,” said Renee Richardson. “People do not understand how widespread senior hunger is in our area.”

Richardson heads the new senior food delivery program. In March of 2021, the program set out on its first home deliveries.

Richardson says the coronavirus pandemic has shined a light on how vulnerable low-income, homebound seniors are, many of whom have no way of getting food and live on very limited resources.

“It helps a lot. They usually get around 30 to 40 pounds of food each delivery,” said Richardson.

Just ask Barbara Wright in Bristol how much this food means to her.

“Honey, I don’t know what we would have done without it,” said Wright.

Delivery driver Carlos Herndon makes a stop by Wright’s house twice a month with a haul of food.

Before enrolling in the program, she says she may have only been able to pull together a few pieces of bread or some potatoes.

“This really helped us out a lot. Our cupboards was bare…was bare,” said Wright.

Wright takes care of her daughter, who is sick with cancer. With no car to pick up groceries and little money thanks to medical bills, the bi-monthly food boxes from Second Harvest are a lifeline.

“I don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. It got pretty bad there at one time,” said Wright.

Last month, Richardson says Second Harvest delivered food to the homes of 107 seniors, a record high. This number shows the elderly need help.

“It’s such a blessing to us because you know that they desperately need it,” said Richardson.

Ms. Wright sang nothing but praises of the food bank that keeps she and her daughter from going hungry.

“They are God sent…they are God sent,” said Wright.

The creation of the food delivery program for seniors is thanks to a grant from The Enterprise Foundation and Feeding America.

Criteria for the program include:

  • Being 60 years old, or older
  • No available transportation
  • No one older than 18 living in the home who could provide transportation

Second Harvest delivers a box of food a month to eligible seniors. Additional deliveries can be planned for, in cases of severe need.

Statistics from Second Harvest show the need is great:

“The Food Bank served 7,559 seniors through agencies and programs during FY2020. The food helps ensure seniors don’t have to choose between food and other basic needs like medical care and housing. An average of 1,045 seniors received food assistance each month. A total of 12,541 food boxes were distributed to seniors at the Food Bank’s direct service food distribution sites, including the Mobile Food Pantry, Mobile Produce Delivery Program, and Senior Grocery Program.”

Second Harvest issued these statistics in a news release.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this program, contact the Second Harvest hotline at 1-888-231-SNAP for more information.

Additional details can also be found on their website.

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